SOLT and Corapi – UPDATED

Well, after hanging back on this story in order to verify it, it does appear — via The SOLT’s own website — that the society did release a statement today that reads, in part:

As the Society was engaging [a fact-finding] team, Fr. Corapi filed a civil lawsuit against his principal accuser. He contended that she had defamed him and breached her contract. The contract, according to Corapi’s lawsuit, contained a provision binding the woman to silence about him. He offered the woman $100,000 to enter this agreement.

SOLT’s fact-finding team subsequently learned that Fr. Corapi may have negotiated contracts with other key witnesses that precluded them from speaking with SOLT’s fact-finding team. Many of these witnesses likely had key information about the accusations being investigated and declined to answer questions and provide documents.

When the fact-finding team asked Fr. Corapi to dismiss the lawsuit, to forbear from foreclosing his mortgage, and to release her and other individuals from their contractual obligations to remain silent about him, he refused to do so and, through his canonical advocate, stated: “It is not possible for Father Corapi to answer the Commission’s questions at this time.”

SOLT’s fact-finding team has acquired information from Fr. Corapi’s e-mails, various witnesses, and public sources that, together, state that, during his years of public ministry:

He did have sexual relations and years of cohabitation (in California and Montana) with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute; He repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs; He has recently engaged in sexting activity with one or more women in Montana; He holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock, and several motor boats, which is a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of the Society.

SOLT has contemporaneously with the issuance of this press release directed Fr. John Corapi, under obedience, to return home to the Society’s regional office and take up residence there. It has also ordered him, again under obedience, to dismiss the lawsuit he has filed against his accuser.

SOLT’s prior direction to Fr. John Corapi not to engage in any preaching or teaching, the celebration of the sacraments or other public ministry continues. Catholics should understand that SOLT does not consider Fr. John Corapi as fit for ministry.

Father Sheehan will not be available for comments as he is attending the SOLT General Chapter from July 5-23.

I frankly thought this thing was a hoax at first, and that Raymond Arroyo’s site had been hacked. Color me a skeptic, I am always leery of sensational things, and this is certainly sensational. Deacon Greg broke the news early and then — for the sake of fairness — pulled back, awaiting confirmation, which has now come from several credible sources (including one of my own sources at National Catholic Register), and which Catholic Radio host Al Kresta has also independently confirmed.

Why had we wondered, and sought verification? Because of the manner in which the SOLT put out their statement — they didn’t post it to their website — the thing was up elsewhere for hours before they finally got around to doing so.

The statement was a bomb, and they had to know it. Instead of owning it, SOLT tried to throw it discretely. But there are no discreet bombs.

What now? Well, SOLT says “with the issuance of this press release directed Fr. John Corapi, under obedience, to return home to the Society’s regional office and take up residence there. It has also ordered him, again under obedience, to dismiss the lawsuit he has filed against his accuser.”

Heh. Good luck. Corapi sent a letter to SOLT resigning from the Society on June 3rd. Perhaps they have not yet “accepted” that resignation, but it seems highly unlikely to me that John Corapi — who has rebranded himself as the “Black Sheepdog,” with the stated intention of broadening his public outreach in order to guard and feed “the entire world” is going to get back into his grey robes and live in community with his confreres.

But see, this was the problem, to begin with. Corapi’s bio stated that he was a “fully professed priest” with the SOLT, but apparently his profession did not involve a vow of poverty, and the society allowed him to live independently (which flies in the face of the whole notion of “community” and “society”) and to work without supervision or accountability.

Frankly, if John Corapi is in spiritual turmoil, right now — and if the statement is true, it would seem that he is — then this society, by their inattention to their “fully professed” priest, has some culpability for that.

Is the statement true? I know a lot of Corapi’s fans are insisting it “cannot be.” But of course, any man can sin; no one is perfect, save Christ (with whom, it must be admitted, a few of the self-proclaimed “Corapians” sometimes seem to confuse him). Since Corapi has amply demonstrated that he’s a man who is not afraid of bringing lawsuits, we can assume that SOLT has information which would prevent them from being sued for libel, and that they’ve dotted all their i’s and crossed their t’s.

If they have not (and nothing about this crew suggests that they are masters of organization, to me) the Black Sheepdog will eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

More importantly, if the SOLT has the proof they assert, then John Corapi is in serious trouble and he needs prayers, as do his fans, and really, the whole church. A great deal of healing will have to take place. Writes Fr. Z:

Corapi has an immortal soul. He is need of a Savior just like the one writing this and you who are reading this. And I would remind you that you, dear reader, are not sinless and neither am I. Many people who admired Corapi will want to know what happens in his case, but I urge you to examine your consciences for your motives. Those who didn’t like him, consider first your own state of soul and God’s mercy. In any event, pray for him, who seems to be very troubled, and for all the people who have been harmed in the matter.

Why now? Well, the SOLT is trying to become a pontifical. Since Corapi has gone BSD, there has been a great deal of division. A bishop who is by all accounts a good shepherd has been slandered. Some of the faithful — in reality thousands, but not millions — are in turmoil. If SOLT wants to move from being a Society to a real order, it needs to take control of this destructive story — they couldn’t have it hanging out there, like laundry in the shade; they needed the story folded and put away. A couple of correspondents have speculated thusly:

The tone of the statement [by SOLT] is much testier, even angry, compared to the last, more pastoral one. The Black Sheepdog stuff just went a bridge too far, I think, and when you read over the comments there and elsewhere, it’s clear his “fans” had crossed the threshold into a cult. It must have galled [SOLT] that he kept apparently saying things that were untrue, and making the SOLT and Mulvey out to be the villains.

Perhaps. Who knows? As to Bishop Mulvey, another writes:

“Without any substantive proof that Bishop Mulvey had it in for the SOLT [as some Corapi fans allege] my approach is to follow CCC 2248 and interpret the bishop’s actions in the most favorable light. It’s just possible that he could later prove instrumental in saving SOLT.”

Again, perhaps.

My own feelings?
The author of chaos is loving this story — the sower of all confusion and discord has been having a ball with it, setting Catholics against each other, encouraging paranoia, conspiracy theories, all manner of uncharitable behavior and hysteria. Christ is not in hysteria, and that should be the first clue that this is the devil’s own operation, regardless of where the sin began. I tried to stop writing about it after spending a little time in the muck of it and feeling spiritual oppression that was only lifted by going to Adoration, and praying before the Blessed Sacrament.

The story is not over, clearly. Pray for John Corapi. Pray for Bishop Mulvey. Pray for all priests. Pray for each other. Pray, pray, pray.

I’ll be updating with other links as I find them. For the time being comments will remain open, but as soon as people start opening their cans o’ crazy (and there has not been a Corapi thread yet, that hasn’t seen the cans shaken and then sprayed) I will close them, and all surrounding threads.

Everyone, keep your heads. When all is said and done, you know, God still wins. I read the book.

UPDATE: Fr. Dwight Longenecker, though not mentioning Corapi in this piece, says “Look for the Little Ones”

Where shall we find a holy person? Where shall we find a saint? It is difficult because the real saint is hidden and humble and holy. Instead of looking for the hidden holy ones we fall for the celebrity ‘saint’. We want the big dramatic conversion story. We want the dynamic, uncompromising speaker. We like the one who speaks out on sin and rails against the devil.

Do read it all! It’s very good.

Also, scroll down here for some thoughts on the heroism of workaday priests:

For those who like to think in terms of troops and soldiers, these unremarkable, faithful servants are the guys — they’re on the front lines, every day, doing their duty, standing a watch, taking a lot of abuse from haters and know-nothings, and from some in their own congregations who don’t understand why they can’t be better, smarter, more charismatic. They suffer for the sins of the church; they pay for their otherness with a measure of loneliness and misunderstanding. They hardly ever get invited to supper, anywhere, and their intentions almost never get prayed for, because most of us are too busy either criticizing them or bringing our troubles to them.

Yet they keep at it, every single day: a life lived in service to the sacraments, in service to the sheep.

And we don’t thank them, enough.

ALSO UPDATE: Also writing:
Mark Shea
Phil Lawler
Dr. Gerard Nadal
Abbey Roads
Jimmy Akin
Frank Weathers
Fr. Dwight Longenecker (breaking)
Creative Minority Report
Blogger Priest
Scott Dodge
Medley Minute
America Magazine

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

About Elizabeth Scalia